Visit the birthplaces of several modern religions, with diverse areas of fascinating history and geography.
The Middle East is often considered the birthplace of modern civilization. Religious histories in the Torah, Bible and Koran identify the region as the origin for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Archeologists have identified remains of some of mankind’s earliest ancestors in the valley of the Euphrates River. Visit the subcontinent to explore its historic past and appreciate its modern cities.
Israel draws not only people of the Jewish faith, but also others interested in seeing the ancient town of Jerusalem and the bustling city of Tel Aviv. In Old Jerusalem, make a pilgrimage to the holy Western Wall, where modern Jews remember the sorrows of their ancestors. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial has extensive information and lists of victims of the historic travesty. From Tel Aviv arrange a daytrip to Bethlehem in Palestine’s West Bank and relive the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus in a stable.
The United Arab Emirates is a collection of Arab emirates in a small, but wealthy country. See the amazing Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, an impressive palace of white domes and beautiful mosaics. This modern wonder welcomes people of any faith. In Dubai, visit one of the world’s tallest and most impressive buildings, the Burj Khalifa, rising more than 160 stories skyward. Select a good spot to watch its amazing fountains choreographed with music and lights. The country constantly invests its wealth in infrastructure and cultural sites, so you are likely to find new attractions if you visit year after year.
Jordan has one of the world’s most fascinating archaeological locations. Petra World Heritage Site reveals a prehistoric city with Greek columns carved into giant rock faces. Travel to the Dead Sea and float in the highly saturated saltwater.
Explore the gold souks and camel markets of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Observe faithful Islamists practicing daily prayers throughout the country, always facing toward Mecca. If you are Muslim, visit the city of Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad and Islam’s holiest city.
Although it is located on the African continent, Egypt is considered part of the Middle East. The country has one of the longest rivers in the world, the Nile. Visit the Pyramids and Sphinx, ancient wonders built over 4,500 years ago, long before the advent of modern construction equipment. Scientists still debate how ancient builders accomplished the difficult tasks of creating these impressive buildings with human labor. Find resorts and dive sites on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
While travel in several countries in the Middle East is at times not advised, most areas offer safe opportunities for very memorable experiences. Check the U.S. Department of State website for current travel advisories. Create your trip to this inspiring region to explore the anthropological and religious roots of much of the modern world.